From John Hennessy:
At the conclusion of Sunday’s culminating ceremony at the Sunken Road, we asked those who had carried flowers from the riverfront to the road place them on ”that small but immense barrier between men Union and Confederate,” the stone wall. Doing this didn’t come into the program until relative late in our planning, but it turned out to be one of the most compelling aspects of the day for many people.
The flowers represented those who fell at Fredericksburg; one out of ten was red, to represent those who died. We were all awed by the sense of responsbility people took in placing the flowers. Clearly, having the chance to physically express themselves in this way meant a great deal.
Yesterday I recieved a note from one of our former law enforcement rangers, now retired, Lyne Shackelford. With his permission (and our thanks), I share with you what he wrote about the program, the wall, and the flowers.
Everything was great: the participants, Rangers, reenactors, crowd, speeches, cannonade, Sunken Road wall program, but for an ex law dog like me, you really got my attention. Here’s the nub of what I’ll carry: The idea of placing carnations on the wall was truly transformational…a gesture symbolic of all who suffered and died during the battle for Fredericksburg, or the war for that matter. Until the anniversary yesterday, and ever since I came to Fredericksburg over 20-years ago, I’ve always viewed it as an inanimate objective, as some ancient artifact where so many men died as part of a fruitless, dirty, and bloody campaign. The carnations we placed there yesterday seemed to sanctify the wall as a living body and memorial to those soldiers, whether they died there or not, embodying their spirit and those terrible times when they lived. Steven Foster knew what he was talking about when he wrote “Hard Times Come Again No More” and you’ve helped me realize that this wall still represents that part of our condition today. It’s not just a wall any more. We take these memorials for granted sometimes…I grew up with them, but I think after this anniversary, I’ll begin to look at them just a little bit differently.